Grieving is hard. Grieving the loss of your baby is even harder. Let’s be honest, it just plain sucks. If you are reading this because it’s happened to you, know that this is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can go through. It’s traumatic and requires support.
When we wake up to the reality that our baby is gone, we are forced to learn how to grieve and move forward in a completely different life, a life that doesn’t include watching our baby grow up.
Let me start by saying, I am so glad that you’ve found the Open to Hope Website and this post.
Grieving the loss of your baby isn’t something that you should go through alone.
Every month, I sit with parents who have lost a child to miscarriage, still birth or infant death. I am part of a San Diego-based non-profit called Empty Cradle. One of our goals is to create a safe space free from judgement where we can share our stories of loss and begin to heal. Healing is amplified because, unlike individual therapy, the evening includes conversation with other parents who have experienced a loss of their own. They get it. They know the pain of grief and they hold the space and support each other as tears stream down their faces.
The experience is cathartic. Sharing the heart wrenching details of what happened and opening ourselves to the most difficult elements of a parent’s loss, creates an opportunity for healing. During the meeting, parents discover what challenges them most, ask the questions that plague their minds night after night, and learn from each other. They are comforted in knowing that they are not alone.
Each meeting takes a lot of tissues. As we share, we cry openly and validate each other’s feelings. Two hours pass with the blink of an eye and then it’s time to bring the meeting to close. We hug it out, men and women alike, say goodbye and go back to our lives.
In my opinion, participating in a meeting like this is the very first thing you should do after losing your baby.
There is a unique magic that happens at each meeting and I feel honored to witness it each month. It is a place to go, where you know you belong, where you can be understood. At each meeting, you can relax, speak your mind, share your feelings and know that the information you share is treasured and safe with those who participate in the meeting.
You are reminded again and again that you aren’t alone and that others have experienced a pain like yours and survived. You find that, in time, you can laugh again, smile again and have hope for your future. You find that the future won’t be the one you expected, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it must be a sad future. Only you can decide how to make peace with what has happened.
And now, more than 8 years after my own loss, I want to remind you that you deserve to be happy, even after all you’ve been through. Losing your baby(s) was not a punishment. It’s just something that happened. It’s not fair and it hurts, but it is what is.
Now is the time to dig in and fight for your happiness by learning how to grieve, how to survive and how to come to acceptance with your loss. By processing your grief and working through the pain you are honoring your baby(s). There is a path forward. It is available and waiting for you. It’s up to you to find that path. Start by finding a meeting where you sit with other parents who have lost a child. If it’s overwhelming and you need help, start by reaching out to me and I’ll come running to support you. By supporting you, I bring meaning to my son’s life and death. Together we can survive. Together we can find joy again.
With love and prayers,
Catherine McNulty (Baby Jackson’s Mama)